You have a right - and a mandate - to have a PRIVATE life with God
I'm not kidding when I say it's helped me to lose a lot of weight. This is so important, I've put it first in this little "losing weight" series on my blog.
I have always journaled. Prior to three years ago, it was all in journals that I hand wrote the old fashioned way. Then I got an on-line password protected journal and my life changed. This coincided with me joining Weight Watchers. It's not something they teach you in the WW program, but it was something the Lord spoke to me to do. Here's why I'm a huge fan of on-line password protected journaling:
With my old fashioned hand written journals, I was honest to a point, but would think very carefully before I would write. Sometimes I'd rip things out later after I went back and re-read them. A few journals, I later burned, in fear that someone would find them. I realized someone could find the journal and read it, even if it was someday after I've gone to heaven. Quite honestly that always reigned me in somewhat when it came to how completely honestly I expressed myself. There were many words inside my head that never made it to the paper. I would think, "how would my kids feel some day to find this? Larry?" No, it just wasn't appropriate.
I'm a firm believer that everybody needs a private relationship with God that is shared with absolutely no one, not even their spouse. While Larry and I have an extremely open and honest marriage and do not "keep secrets" as a rule from each other, or confide in others about one another, we do both have a relationship with God that is private. I believe when I stand before God one day it will not be with Larry. I have to answer for my own self to God. We all do. Certainly we do serve the Lord together in marriage and ministry and we share spiritual things. But some things I do reserve for just Jesus and me.
One time I was at a women's retreat and the speaker gave an illustration of a pastor's wife who journaled daily, the "old fashioned" way - hand writing. On the outward she was always kind, uplifting her husband and encouraging and never spoke a cross word if she could possibly help it. This was how she believed God called her to live. But at times she would become overwhelmed and upset about things about her husband. Rather than criticize him or complain to her husband, she wrote all her feelings in these handwritten journals to God that she had carefully tucked away in a secret spot at home. Through these she expressed her feelings when she was upset with him rather than nag or attack him. All of this was great until she died and her husband found her journals while cleaning out their house, and was absolutely devastated. The retreat speaker said she felt it was a terrible thing that the pastor's wife wrote those journals and said we should never do that. In keeping a journal "the old fashioned way" I agree, it could be very hurtful to someone. But, thank God for newfangled things! (LOL) I'm telling you, this is one of the blessings of the internet. I for one believe we should take our problems, frustrations, and hurts to God. That's exactly where they should be taken. He already knows what's in our head anyway, so typing it out doesn't scare or offend Him. The problem is when others see things that are intended for God alone.
I believe in a private life with God so much that in my life coaching classes, all of the women are required to have password protected online journals. Why not just pray? Why write it out? Well, first of all, if you are someone who learns or expresses yourself well through writing, it's a wonderful way to connect with God. Second, in reading over your journals from the past you can see how far you have come. It gives you a point of reference and also helps you in giving glory to God for what He has brought you through. Through my journals of the past I see that there is hope for my tomorrow.
One lady that I had in life coaching had an issue that her husband was upset about her having a prayer journal. He said it wasn't right for him to not have the password and that he felt it was wrong for me to assign this and didn't want her to do it. I don't believe that's necessary or appropriate. While we should not share things with another human being over our spouse, we all have not only a right but I believe a mandate to have a personal, private relationship with God. After all, what is the "secret place" the Bible speaks of? Every human being needs this intimate time with God. Even a husband should not take that away. If they try to, I believe they themselves are unhealthy and insecure.
There are many thoughts that I safely share with God each day and once I do I feel so much better and so much closer to Him. I do it on live journal. Some tips:
1) Choose a screen name no one including your family would guess.
2) Choose a password completely unrelated to anything or anyone in your life, and preferably mix up letters and numbers.
3) Be sure to mark the journal for "private" viewing only. (if you use live journal it's at the bottom of the post, you just click private.
4) BE SURE to log out on any computer you use as soon as you are done.
5) DO NOT disclose to any human being what your screen name or password is, no matter what. Resist the temptation to share with anyone even snippets or thoughts from your prayer journal. It's sacred territory. Let this be the one place that stays with just you and Him.
And there you have it - a personal place for you to go to God and God alone, that will always remain safe - even when you go to heaven someday.
I'm not kidding people, this was a major catalyst in helping me lose almost 40 lbs! SERIOUSLY. Why? Do you know the amount of needless pain we bear simply by not truly expressing it, no holds barred, to God? I'm not the only one who has ever pointed this out, in fact a great hymn writer said:
...oh what peace we often forfeit
oh what needless pain we bear...
all because we do not carry...
everything to God in prayer.
Take it to Him. Everything. Get it out. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty or unspiritual for doing that. A password protected prayer journal might just be your secret to freedom - weight loss, victory, peace, and so much more.